Make Wall Street pay

With Connecticut facing a record deficit, a statewide coalition of union and community groups has formed to demand that Bank of America (BOA) contribute its fair share to the state’s economy. BOA is the largest bank in Connecticut, but has avoided paying taxes to the state, and has a poor record on small business loans and foreclosures.

On March 11, protests were held at BOA branches in five towns. In New Haven, 40 union members and community residents marched into the bank and presented a bill for $2.9 billion owed to the people of Connecticut. One hundred participated in a similar action in Middletown.

Last year, the Wall Street banks paid out $120 billion in total compensation, nearly equal to the record loot they scored two years ago. This is double the amount the Republicans are trying to cut from children, nutrition programs, unemployed, community health centers, heating assistance and other essential programs for the remainder of this year.

A big share of Wall Street loot comes domes from the huge gambling operation run by the financial establishment, where high rollers speculate in stocks, derivatives, mortgage-backed-securities, commodities futures, credit-default-swaps and other high-tech and exotic forms of roulette. A very small tax on these financial transactions would have no effect on legitimate activity, but would help dampen the speculation that played a big part in the financial crisis that is still with us. Such a tax could, conservatively, bring in at least $150 billion per year

This coming year, every state is facing huge deficits. In Connecticut, we see the results in a wave of layoffs in cities and towns, cuts in state services, tax increases on middle-income working families, and huge sacrifices demanded of state workers. The combined deficits from all the states come to about $120 billion. In Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and other states, deficits are being used as an excuse for an all-out attack on workers’ rights.

Michael Moore nailed it when he told workers in Madison, Wisconsin that we are not broke. It’s just that the money is in the wrong place. The $150 billion that could easily come from a tax on Wall Street gambling — a tax that would fall entirely on the big banks and the super-rich — would erase every state deficit, with money left over to help cities and towns. So which will it be — the students, teachers, homeowners, children, and elderly — or Bank of America and the rest of Wall Street parasites? Which side are we on?

Photo: Art Perlo


Art Perlo
Art Perlo

Art Perlo lived in New Haven, Conn., where he was active in labor and community struggles. He did research and writing on economic issues in Connecticut, including work with the Coalition to End Child Poverty in Connecticut which helped pave the way for the movement for progressive tax reform in the state. He wrote on national economic issues for the People's World and was a member of the CPUSA Economic Commission.